All Snakes Day 2011

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I’m not Irish–I’m not even really a Druid–but I’ve had a lot of Irish folk (ok, mostly men) in my life. I was married to one, handfasted to two others (waves at J.D. Murphy, A.A. Kelly, and the other guy–never mind him, he’s in jail) and of course married to an (only partly Irish) ArchDruid. Kid Sister is married to an Irishman. I listen to the Thistle and Shamrock, and can phonetically (if haltingly) sing the Irish words to Isaac’s Hymn to Bridget. I used to watch out my office window when city workers dumped the green dye into the Chicago River (it’s orange going in) and even once–near fifty years ago–marched in Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Oh, yeah, Big Sister was born on St. Patrick’s Day,* which meant that we had a legit reason to throw a party anyway.**

So, for a Polish/Austrian gal, I got at least a little Irish cred. Which is all I need, I guess to acknowledge St. Patrick’s Day.

Which is a day about which Isaac had mixed feelings. As a certified (some might say certifiable) Erin-ophile, he loved celebrating Irish heritage. But St. Patrick is connected (however erroneously) with expelling Pagans and Druids from Ireland. So he used to call St. Paddy’s day All Snakes Day, with the slogan “Bring Back the Snakes!”

I’ll leave it to those with more dogs in the fight than I have as to the historical accuracy of anything about St. Patrick, or the appropriateness of American celebratory traditions . However, I really liked Galina Krassova’s idea for celebrating the day: pick a Celtic deity to honor with song, ritual or prayer. Isaac would have liked that.

At any rate, in honor of Himself, here’s Isaac’s All Snakes Day anthem (which was sung quite memorably at his memorial service by none other than Margot Adler}:

Be Pagan Once Again!

“This was one of the very first Pagan songs I ever wrote. The tune is Ireland’s unoffical national anthem. I was enormously proud a few years ago to find out that a pirate radio station in the Irish Sea had been broadcasting this song into Ireland for ‘St. Patrick’s Day.’”

© 1972, 2001 c.e., words by Isaac Bonewits
music Irish trad. (“A Nation Once Again”), Key of F

When childhild’s fire was in my blood, I dreamed of ancient dreemen,
Against the Church who boldly stood, as Pagans and as Heathen.
And then I prayed I yet might see, the Druids in the glen,
And Ireland long the churches’ toy, be Pagan once again!
?Be Pagan once again, be Pagan once again,
And Ireland long the churches’ toy, be Pagan once again!

The Old Gods only sleep you know, although betrayed and slandered.
?They guarded us from every woe, and blessed each crop and fine herd.
Then Patrick, he drove the snakes away, and brought the churches in.
‘Twas a bloody poor bargain, I would say — let’s be Pagan once again!
Be Pagan once again, be Pagan once again,
‘Twas a bloody poor bargain, I would say — let’s be Pagan once again!

And ever since that wretched day, when first Ireland went Christian,
We’ve suffered woe in every way, with our freedom made the worst “sin”.
?They set us at each other’s throats, to murder kith and kin.
Too long we’ve been their starving goats — let’s be Pagan once again!
Be Pagan once again, be Pagan once again,
Too long we’ve been their starving goats — let’s be Pagan once again!

Both Catholic and Protestant, led us round by our noses,
Distracting from the deadly scent, of England’s bleedin’ roses!
Kick every preacher ‘cross the sea, burn out their golden dens.
It’s the only way we’ll ever be free — let’s be Pagan once again!
Be Pagan once again, be Pagan once again,
It’s the only way we’ll ever be free — let’s be Pagan once again!

And a picture of Isaac from his one and only trip to Ireland, back in 2000:

Isaac Bonewits @ Brid's Well in Ireland, 2000

Isaac at Brid's Well in Ireland, 2000

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* Mom once said her strongest act of will was refusing to name my sister Patricia. (waves at Beverly).

** I have a picture of Beverly at her 13th birthday party wearing a dress of the most beautiful emerald green. But I’ll bet she doesn’t want that posted.

*** “We brought a couple of cases of Guinness to the office this morning and by 10:30 [AM] I was already throwing up!” Michael Cullen, March 17, 1978 [or so]

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